McGregor eager to christen Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium with Pacquiao fight

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Conor McGregor would be "honoured" to do battle with Manny Pacquiao in what he believes would be a blockbuster first fight at the Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium.

McGregor will make his UFC return against Donald Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday, 15 months after he was beaten by Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last bout.

The 31-year-old Irishman is also hungry to don the boxing gloves again and has called out Floyd Mayweather Jr, who he stopped in the 10th round of their fight in August 2017, for a rematch.

McGregor this week revealed talks with another legendary veteran, Pacquiao, are ongoing and would relish the chance to do battle with the 41-year-old in 60,000 capacity Nevada venue that is still being constructed. 

"It will be hard to leave the MMA game fully but I think a boxing world title is a great aspiration to have," said the mixed martial arts superstar.

"What a feather in the cap it would be. I always want bigger and better and to reach for the stars.

"I would love the rematch with Floyd Mayweather and I know the Manny one is there whenever I want it."

He added: "I would be honoured and love to be the first combatant to fight in that arena and what a fight that would be against a small and powerful southpaw.

"We would have to figure out the weight we do it at but it interests me, no doubt."

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    The pair will go head to head in a lightweight unification bout at UFC 254.

    Khabib is the current champion but his withdrawal from UFC 249 due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic saw Gaethje step in and beat Tony Ferguson for the interim title.

    Gaethje now fancies his chances against the Russian, telling Michael Bisping's Believe You Me podcast: "There's going to be a zone in front of me.

    "It's not very big. It's going to be a zone of death, and I have to represent death every time he enters the zone. That's what I'm the best at, creating carnage, creating car crashes.

    "My only goal when I step in there is to create as many car crashes as possible, whether it be our bodies hitting, our heads hitting, our shoulders hitting, our fists hitting, my fist hitting his head, his fist hitting my head.

    "It doesn't matter. I need to create car crashes, because that's the only way to beat this guy."

    Khabib appears to be relishing the challenge, though, as he swiftly responded.

    Posting a comment on Instagram, he wrote: "Class. I like how he talks and his confidence.

    "So this fight promises to be the best fight this year. I have something to show the world."

    There had been speculation Khabib would retire from the sport after losing his father at the age of 57 in July, but his manager refuted that claim before UFC president Dana White confirmed the Gaethje fight.

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    McGregor announced his decision to retire in June, having returned to the Octagon in January after a 15-month absence and knocked out Donald Cerrone at welterweight in just 40 seconds.

    Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor had been planning to fight three times in 2020, however, the coronavirus pandemic scuppered that strategy.

    And White insisted there are no plans for McGregor to return to UFC in 2020.

    "This year, he is retired," White told Barstool Sports on Monday.

    "He doesn't have a fight this year, and he won't have a fight this year. Conor McGregor will not fight in 2020.

    "I'm not saying he won't fight in 2021, but I'm telling you we don't have a fight planned for him in 2021. But I guarantee you he will not fight in 2020. Conor McGregor is retired."

    White added: "Do we all believe he'll stay retired? I think most of us don't believe that he'll remain retired, but let me put it to you this way: I owe fighters that are under contract with me three fights a year.

    "OK? If I don't deliver those three fights a year, I have to pay them. Conor McGregor is retired, whether people want to believe it or not.

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    Benzema, 32, enjoyed a brilliant campaign for Madrid, scoring 21 goals and providing eight assists as Los Blancos beat Barcelona to the LaLiga title.

    Such form suggests Benzema still has plenty of legs left in football yet, even though he may be approaching the twilight years of his career.

    But there are other challenges that appeal to the French striker, including it seems having a go at the fight game.

    Benzema took questions from several friends for a YouTube video, one of which came from French kickboxer Fouad Ezbiri, who he has trained with in the past.

    Ezbiri asked if Benzema - a fan of fight sports - ever had plans to step in the ring at least once.

    "Well Fouad my broski, in any case I hope you're doing good, and it's true that I love fighting sports," Benzema said. 

    "I love training, as you say we already trained, after the soccer why not train with you for six months and if you think I can be ready for a fight, no problem for me, I'm up for it!"

    Benzema also responded to a separate question about how much longer he feels he has left in football.

    "I'm working a lot. I pay attention to everything I do, I take care of myself and I'm trying to get the best out of me as possible," Benzema added. 

    "I know this is not the beginning of my career but in any case, for me, age does not mean anything and yeah we're going to do everything."

    Benzema also revealed three major sporting influences of his, saying: "It depends there are many people who have inspired me but we'll take soccer for example. It's Ronaldo, the Brazilian, so he's the one who made me love football, simply. It's thanks to what he did but everyone knows it. 

    "Then athletic, although I'm not a big fan of basketball, but I would say Michael Jordan for what he did, what he has been with the Chicago Bulls. And then another athlete I would say Mike Tyson, there you go Mike Tyson, because it's the power."

    Real Madrid team-mate James Rodriguez pondered whether Benzema prefers scoring or assisting a team-mate.

    "I'll answer you sincerely. Making assists or scoring goals are two different things but not that different and I like to do both," he said. 

    "To choose, I choose to score. On the other hand if my partner is good and sure to score I'll pass him the ball and offer him the goal. So, I choose both my brother."

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